Page images
PDF
EPUB

nerated; or, as they are, or do continue, regenerated.

Firft, As Men are without the faid Call and unregenerated: Suppofing they fell not into this State by Means of any Apoftacy or Refufal of their own or of their Ancestors, as above, fince the Times of the Gofpel; but are defcended of a Race of Ancestors (if any fuch have been) who never heard of the Gospel; then, befides that common Moral Liberty, to which Mankind after the Fall, for ordinary Ufes, was reftor'd; they have alfo a general Liberty as to things Spiritual, to accept or reject the faid Call, Provifionally, and with Condition, if it shall be at auy Time offer'd to them. They being nevertheless, for the mean Time, by Reafon of their old Hereditary Forfeiture before Chrift came, ftill under ac tual Captivity and Bondage. But, if, on the other Hand, they fell into this unregenerate State, by Means of fuch refufal of, or Apof tacy from, the Gospel once preach'd, and Grace once imparted, to them; (which, I doubt, is generally the Cafe of the now Jewifb, Pagan, and Mahometan World, as alfo of the Pelagian, Socinian, and Deift Tares among the Chriftian Wheat) there then remains a Doubt concerning them, how far they may be at length repudiated by God, and, fo, be even put out of that general Capacity of Freedom by Chrift, which all the World once had, but I am not fure, it now hath, and always fhall

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

fhall have. Certainly, fo far as we can judge
by Appearances and Facts, Things for many
Ages have look'd, as if many Perfons and Na-
tions had been excluded the benefit of that
conditional Privilege of Spiritual Liberty by
Faith in Chrift Fefus; the Means of this Pri-
vilege, by the Preaching the true Gospel of
Christ among them, having not been offer'd to
them: Which can no way be accounted for,
except by fome recent Forfeitures made by
themselves, of the Overtures or Communicati-
ons of Grace, which themselves or their An-
ceftors, fince the Difpenfation of the Gospel,
have fometime had. For, doubtless, any
fingle Perfon may refufe, or fall away from,
and fo forfeit, the faid gracious Liberty; and,
confequently, any collective Body of Perfons,
a Church or Nation, may do the fame: Which
is a Point of great Concernment to be confider'd,
that they who are yet within the Terms of
Mercy, act not fo as finally to exclude them-
felves from them: Befides that, the right Con-
fideration of this, will help to account for a
great number of other Points, which, for want
of knowing this, are often controverted among
Chriftians.

2dly. As Men have embrac'd the Call and are Regenerated, they are reftor'd (tho' not to full Perfection of Spiritual Liberty, yet) to Liberty as fully perfect as they are capable of in this State, even to that of being called the Sons of God. But, with Thefe there is still a Mixe

M

ture

[ocr errors]

ture. For, thofe generally call'd Children, may be either true Children; Children of the Kingdom; Children of Light; Children of Promife; elect Children known to God and fealed withthe Holy Spirit of Promife; or, ftrange, difobedient, rebellious, back-fliding, Children: Who, either do perfevere thro' Sufferings, or who do in Time of Temptation fall away. The Distinction feems to be in the Election according to God's Fore-knowledge and its Confequences; the Elect, according to God's Foreknowledge, will affuredly ftand: Because the Lord knoweth them that are his, and they cannot commit Sin, fo as to become Castaways; because they are born of God, and his Seed abideth in them; and keepeth them, fo that, that wicked one toucheth them not. But, neither does this imply that any force is used upon them, to make them the lefs properly FreeAgents: For, that they cannot commit Sin, is not of Impotency but Averfion; it is, as an honeft and juft Man cannot do a base and villainous Act; because every fuch Act is his Loathing and Abhorrence. Or, if they are drawn to perfevere; it is ftill with the Cords of a Man; with the Cords of Perfuafion, Love, and Good-will, with kind Means and Affiftances offer'd; that having a Good Will to accept, and embrace, the Divine Call; they may have a Working alfo to effect with their Good Will. And, for this there are faving Claufes in abundance to exprefs, that God keeps his

Children

[ocr errors]

Children no otherwife than as they keep or hold Faith and a good Confcience; as they keep their Garments, and themselves, infpotted from the World: And that his Allurements are no Compulfions upon their Wills forcing them as Machines to Good; but, contrariwife, that we have a Liberty or Free-Agency to Good, which ftill is not only confiftent with those Allurements, but which is properly owing to them. And fo the Church expreffes herself in her Prayer to Chrift in the Canticles--Do thou draw us, and, then we will run after thee. That is, Of our felves we have no Ability but to Evil: Do thou, therefore, allure and draw us with the Cords of thy Love, and then we, that are otherwise generally Averse, and Lame and Dead to thee and to thy Goodness, fhall inftantly revive, love, and long for thee, and, with power and agility of Inclination and Action, follow, and even run after, thee. But, ftill this is that Kingdom of God which cometh not with Obfervation. For tho' the Lord knoweth them that are his; and we have a Rule whereby to affure our Hearts from Time to Time, before God: Yet, are there no certain Indications of this outwardly given to the World, that a Man may fay, Lo here, or lo there, is a Child, or Servant of God, Seal'd with the Seal of the living God in his Forehead, and predeftinated in the Divine Foreknowledge to eternal Life. For, as to outward Gifts, and Means; all, baptized into the Faith of

M 2

of Chrift, all, as to Man's Judgment, have, or may have, them, in many refpects, alike. Nay, it is to be believ'd that all Baptized, as aforefaid, have at fome Time or Times, in the main, the fame Degree and Taste of the Spirit and of Spiritual Influences upon them: Yet, if, with all this, they want that Self-keeping, and that Self-affurance from Time to Time above mention'd; as the Spirit is ftill a free, and not a forcible Spirit; fo will his Gifts and Graces be to them, as they are in themselves not fixt, but forfeitable: Perfons and Things, here, being, as the Apoftle informs us, both perfect, and not perfect, in divers refpects, at the fame Time: So that no Man's Regeneration (otherwife than comparativily, and by the Divine Predeftination in Fore-knowledge) is abfolute, full, or final, Regeneration: But, the Refurrection to Glory, is after all, by way of Eminence, call'd the Regeneration, nay, not only the Regeneration but the Adoption, and Redemption alfo, of our Body. Rom. viii. 23. So that, our Regeneration and Adoption, do appear, for the prefent, to be partial, in our Spirit or Soul only; whereas, our full and final Regeneration and Adoption in our Body alfo, is referv'd for hereafter, for the Time of the Refurrection. Only to this we have the earneft of the Spirit, in the mean while, in our Soul, here. But, may not fome Men forfeit their earnest? It appears that the Holy Spirit, whereby we are Sealed as above, in our Spirit

or

« PreviousContinue »